Family Member Reveals New Details In The Shooting Death Of An Orient Man


Three men and two teens have been arrested for the shooting death of an 84-year-old grandfather.

But family members say not all of the suspects took part in the killing.

One woman wants to set the record straight.

"He had no involvement in this case whatsoever. He would not murder anyone, much less a person he didn't know,” says Ariana Johnson, the sister of Joshua Johnson – who is charged in connection with the case.

Joshua Johnson is among five people who face charges ranging from grand theft to aggravated murder in the slaying of Tom Whitson.  Two of those charged are juveniles and one man, Shawn Lawson, is Whitson’s own grandson.

Officials say they drove to Pickaway County and murdered Shawn Lawson’s 84-year-old grandfather for guns.

Neighbors checking in on Tom Whitson found his body dead inside his home on Sunday, March 30.  Just a day later, officers were arresting his grandson.   They soon came to a southwest Columbus apartment and arrested a juvenile and Johnson.

Before that arrest, Johnson paid a visit to his sister. She said her brother thought about going to the police, but was frightened.

"He sounded like he was about to cry. He's really tough.  There's only certain situations he would cry in, and this is one of those situations.”

As Ariana learns more about the killing, she's coming forward with details of her own. She tells 10TV that Johnson laid out the night for her; right down to the moment Johnson said he and another man charged in the case - Jesse Akers - waited in the car and heard something unexpected.

"I'm pretty sure he was freaking out. I'm pretty sure he was like, 'what was that?'"

Ariana says Josh told her he heard three gun shots.  She says Josh - who's the only one not charged with murder - thought he was there for a different reason.

"They were going to go inside and get just regular paper money for rent"

However, detectives say the plan didn't include cash.

It was Whitson's life, exchanged for guns, that haunts Ariana.

"I hope the Whitson family does get the right justice; that they do find the right killer.  But it's not my brother. I know it's not my brother. My brother would never do anything like that."

Detectives say they have recovered all seven guns stolen from Whitson's home.